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Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Mitsubishi A6M Zero Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2017 Title Mitsubishi A6M Zero
Author James D'Angina Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2016 ISBN 9781472808219
Format 64 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $18.95


Ask folks to name a World War II Japanese fighter. And they'll inevitably pick the legendary Zero.

Now author James D'Angina recaps the iconic Imperial Navy warplane in Mitsubishi A6M Zero – 19th installment in Osprey's growing "Air Vanguard" range.

After introductory comments, contents commence with A6M design, development and deployment notes. Coverage chronologically courses through 15 Zero variants. Handy tables recap specifications and production for all.

Coverage then segues to operational history. From China and Pearl Harbor through Midway and Guadalcanal to island-hopping campaigns and suicide operations, D'Angina succinctly summarizes the A6M's combat narrative. Here, more tables recap participating Imperial Japanese units.


Japan never received P-35s – just two-place Seversky 2PA-B3s, 20 of which served the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service as A8V1s with the Allied code name "Dick". Two captions are misplaced on pages 28 and 29. And with D'Angina's discussions of wing profiles, why choose the least emblematic Zero variant – the A6M3 Model 32 – for the book's only three-view?

Adam Tooby's digital art also proved dark, flat and indistinct. His details and profiles lack the impact of, say, Osprey artists Ronnie Olsthoorn's and Jim Laurier's work.

Moreover, respected researchers like Nicholas J I Millman confirm that early A6Ms wore overall "Olive Gray", transliterated "Ameiro" – a distinctly amber or "caramel" hue. Tooby's choice of camouflage color appears far too pale and gray. What happened to that interesting – and potentially informative – cutaway on the book's back cover? And most importantly, what's that Messerschmitt Bf 109 doing on the front cover?

Concerns aside, D'Angina's handy history hits the Zero saga's main points in just 64 pithy pages. Photos, color profiles, extended captions, selected the biography and index augment the account.

In the end, Osprey's author concludes, the Zero's "greatest downfall was its unwarranted longevity as a frontline fighter". Make his tidy little tome your launchpad to further study of Imperial Japan's fabled fighter.

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!